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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

HHS: O’Connor: What Nerds Can Learn From Wedgies?

Uhh…avoid The (Bob) Melvin at all cost?

Could Dustin Ackley actually have performed worse because of advanced baseball metrics?  Was he on fangraphs late at night looking at his ground ball percentage and his BABIP and wondering if his successes were flukes or his shortcomings were surmountable?  It’s possible, as Ackley is young and plays in a progressive city and just might hear terms like WAR and wOBA tossed around at home and around the batting cage.

More likely, though, Ackley goes about his job largely ignorant of the numbers that claimed he was worthless (though baseball-reference and fangraphs sure liked his defense and baserunning).  Like other non-pitchers, he spends time on the field working on turning ground balls into outs and getting himself on base.

And that’s just it.  It appears that Wedge’s reference to sabermetrics really runs no deeper than on-base percentage.

...We all know Wedge is not alone as a baseball insider questioning the validity of more advanced research and its encroachment on the game, particularly in the front offices from which he receives his marching orders.  When outsiders suggest that a team could be better managed by restructuring lineups, platooning more, or using relief pitchers differently, we’re certainly prone to overlooking the impact of these changes on the actual human beings playing the game.  I’m sure the Reds would win more games if Joey Votto hit second and Zack Cozart hit… I don’t know… 84th, but how would Votto react to being told he needs to leave what he’s always been told is the “heart of the order”?

But does this insider/outsider dichotomy really apply to Ackley’s situation?

I suppose it’s possible that Dustin Ackley knew he was worth close to 3 WAR in his rookie year (3.7 per b-r and 2.9 per fangraphs), then less valuable in 2012 (2.8 and 1.1, respectively) and basically worthless in 2013, and that knowledge crawled under his skin and robbed him of whatever focus and drive made him a valuable player in 2011.  It’s more possible that Ackley was a bit of a mirage in 2011 and when his bat regressed the following season, his career took the same route as so many careers before his, including his manager’s.  This outsider thinks sabermetrics played more of a role in Wedge’s bosses’ decision to demote Ackley than in Ackley’s failures.

Repoz Posted: May 29, 2013 at 01:02 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. bookbook Posted: May 30, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4455384)
The sabremetrics of noting that hitting .207 with no power or walks is a problem? Wedge's bosses are numerical geniuses.

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